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Clearwater Inspection Program

In an effort to improve the environment and for the protection of Lake Winnebago, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources, has directed the City of Fond du Lac along with other neighboring communities, to eliminate clear water (storm or rain water) entries to its sanitary sewer collection system. Our goal is to provide adequate treatment facilities to properly treat all wastes and water tributary to the system.

To comply with this order, the City of Fond du Lac has initiated the necessary program and construction to provide adequate treatment facilities. Primary emphasis has been to rehabilitate the existing sanitary sewer system by correcting the deficiencies which allow clear water entry during wet weather periods. “Clear water entries” can best be explained by defining the two categories that cause the problems in our sanitary sewer system, namely infiltration and inflow.

1. Infiltration-refers to the accidental entry of clear water, mainly storm water, into the sanitary sewer system through defective sewer pipes, pipe joints and manholes. Defects are the result of structural
failure, deterioration and aging.

2. Inflow-refers to the direct connection of downspouts, roof drains, foundation drains and sumps pumps to the sanitary sewer system. The City has completed many sanitary sewer rehabilitation projects to correct the infiltration problems within the sewer system’s mains and manholes. However, based on flow data compiled during wet weather periods, we have sufficient evidence that inflow sources, existing on private properties are contributing unacceptable amounts of clear water into the sanitary sewer system. In only a matter of minutes, these inflow sources create an overloading of the sanitary sewer mains and an undesirable impact of millions of gallons of clear water on the sewage treatment plant. During these periods, emergency measures have to be taken, such as pumping and bypassing to prevent the hazard of sewage back-up into homes and buildings. The D.N.R. has required the City to pledge elimination of its bypassing problems.

The problem needs to be handled at the source the inflow connections. These inflow connections, which discharge into the sanitary sewer, are illegal by City ordinance and by the State Plumbing Code, and will have to be located and disconnected.

Therefore, to comply with the orders issued by the Department of Natural Resources, the City
of Fond du Lac has deemed it necessary to conduct inspections of residential, commercial and industrial properties to identify possible sources of clear water entry into the sanitary sewer system. Almost 15,000 dwellings will be inspected in the course this program. The following items may be checked to determine possible contribution of clear water to the sanitary sewer system:

1. Location and discharge of roof drains, gutters and downspouts.

2. Yard grading, to drain rainwater and snow melt away from building basement wall.

3. Discharge of sump pump.

4. Connection of foundation footing drains.

5. Yard area drains connected to sanitary sewer.

6. Inflow of cooling water.

The City urges residents to take voluntary measures to eliminate any clear water connections which discharge into the City’s sanitary sewer system from their property. Residents who are aware of, or have a suspicion of, any such connections may call the Public Works Department for advice on confirmation or correction of the connection. Voluntary action by residents will result in earlier correction of problems and, most of all; will reduce the wet weather load on our sewer system and sewage treatment plant.

Community understanding of the seriousness of this problem is especially important for this program to be effective. This inspection will require cooperation between the City and property owner. When an illegal connection(s) is located and verified on any property, a representative of the inspection party will advise the resident or owner of the most economical method which could be used to eliminate the clear water connection. If voluntary action cannot be obtained through cooperation of the property owner, we will have to proceed with enforcement actions.

The ultimate goal of these efforts is to obtain a savings to the taxpayers by reducing the treatment of clear water at the sewage treatment facility. This will be a major step toward the control of pollution to the waters of Lake Winnebago, and the elimination of basement back-up problems during periods of heavy rainfall.

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